The National Bird?

The national bird – that’s what Ben Franklin famously thought the turkey should be. It was, he wrote, “a much more respectable bird” than the eagle, which he considered to be “a rank coward”. He thought the turkey to be “a true original native of America, and a bird of courage” that would willingly attack any grenadier of the British Guards who dared to invade his farm.

He was correct in thinking that the tom turkey would aggressively protect itself, as many a stroller or golfer who has come too close to one can attest. But he was wrong in thinking that turkeys were native to the United States, although today they can be found in every state except Alaska. They were first encountered by 16th-century European explorers arriving in Mexico, where turkeys had been bred for centuries, making it one of only two birds native to the Americas (the other being the Muscovy duck). Imported to Europe and the Middle East, the birds reminded traders of the African guinea fowl that came to them along trade routes passing through Turkey, and thus came to be called “Turkey birds.”

To read more about our almost national bird – the turkey – as well as other articles from SINHG, click here.

Seabrook Island Natural History Group is one of the island’s oldest and largest special interest groups dedicated to exploring the ecology, history, and culture of the Carolina Lowcountry. For more information about SINHG, click here.

-Submitted by Seabrook Island Natural History Group

(Image credits: Seabrook Island Natural History Group)

SINHG Program Rescheduled

Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) had to postpone their program “Lost Charleston” due to Tropical Storm Nicole. It is now rescheduled for Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 7:00 pm at The Lake House.

The presentation will explore “Lost Charleston” with author Leigh Handal, whose book of the same title was published in 2019.  It will recall the many mansions, hotels, markets, and restaurants that disappeared during much of the 20th century when the city reinvented itself as a tourist destination after the devastations of the Civil War and natural disasters such as the 1886 earthquake.

For more information about the program, click here. To make reservations, visit the SINHG website.

If you already registered for the canceled November 10 date, you do not need to re-register.

-Submitted by SINHG

SINHG Explores “Lost Charleston”

The final SINHG (Seabrook Island Natural History Group) Evening Program of the fall season will take place at The Lake House, on Thursday, November 10, 2022, at 7:00 pm.  The presentation will explore “Lost Charleston” with author Leigh Handal, whose book of the same title was published in 2019.  It will recall the many mansions, hotels, markets, and restaurants that disappeared during much of the 20th century when the city reinvented itself as a tourist destination after the devastations of the Civil War and natural disasters such as the 1886 earthquake.

Handal has also co-authored the training manual used by the city’s licensed tour guides and is active in the preservation campaign for the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease Historical Site. Professionally, Handal worked for many years in public relations and has served as the local chapter president of the Public Relations Society of America. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and The College of Charleston, for which she served as president of the college’s Alumni Association.

SINHG Evening Programs are open to all Seabrook Island residents and guests.
There is a $5 fee for non SINHG members. To preregister visit, please click here.

Seabrook Island Natural History Group explores the ecology, history, and culture of the Carolina Lowcountry.  Come explore with us!  For more information about SINHG, please go to sinhg.org.

-Submitted by Norm Powers for SINHG

SINHG Members Explore On Land And Sea This Fall

Members of the Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) traveled all over the Lowcountry on October’s SINHG Trip schedule.

During a tour of The Citadel, members learned the importance of the treasured Citadel Ring, bestowed at the beginning of each cadet’s Senior year (and that newly-shaved freshman are called “nobs”).

Fifteen members took to Horseshoe Creek via kayak spotting the creek’s abundant birdlife, with sightings of the Pileated Woodpecker, while a dozen SINHG members viewed downtown through the lens of the city’s Charleston Renaissance of the early 20th century.

Another tour focused on the South of Broad and French Quarter neighborhoods, culminating in a delicious lunch at the historic State Street dining room, based on recipes from the city’s 19th century cookbooks.

Two member groups enjoyed a tour of Charleston Harbor and the Intercoastal Waterway aboard the 24-foot SS Charleston, taking in along the way Shem Creek, the iconic Ravenel Bridge and Fort Sumter.



October’s trips concluded with an Easy Rider Bike tour through Old Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island.


SINHG Trips for members will continue through early December. To learn more about SINHG Trips and membership, visit sinhg.org.

-Submitted by Norm Powers, for SINHG

Diamonds In The Mud

While much attention is justly focused on the endangered, seafaring loggerhead turtle population that nests here every summer, a less threatened cousin that spends all its time on the island also faces threats from habitat loss and human activity. The Carolina diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin centrata), with distinctive circular markings on its carapace, inhabits the brackish waters of our salt marshes and tidal creeks, feeding on crabs, snails, fish, oysters, and mussels. It’s the only turtle species known to prefer brackish water. Its attraction to crab pots is one threat, sometimes trapping and drowning the animal. Encounters with motorized boats are another potential cause of mortality. Habitat loss from warming and rising water levels, or from human development along estuaries and inlets, is an increasing challenge for diamondbacks, which are found all along the Atlantic coast from Cape Hatteras to Florida. Although not considered endangered, terrapins are an important indicator species for water quality, with populations all along the coast monitored regularly.

The term “terrapin” is applied to land-based turtles, as opposed to marine species like the loggerhead. Carolina terrapins are active nearly all year round, living in burrows dug in mudflats and hibernating there during colder months. Its shell ranges from gray to light green or brown and is marked by concentric growth rings that indicate age, which can be measured in decades. One male specimen found on Kiawah had originally been tagged in the 1980s and was found still active and healthy twenty-five years later.

Like their seagoing relations, diamondback females lay their eggs, starting in late spring, in nests dug in sandy banks above the high tide line, which may bring females looking for nesting sites disastrously in contact with vehicular traffic along roads built too close to the water. The nests are often raided by raccoons, foxes, and seagulls.

But the good news is that Carolina terrapins have recovered from near-extinction in the early twentieth century when their pale yellow meat was considered a delicacy. They were eagerly hunted to supply restaurants and fish markets, bringing high prices that climbed even higher as it became more difficult finding them by digging out of their hibernation burrows. Today, although legally harvestable, they’re thankfully no longer considered suitable for the dining table and no commercial hunting permits have been issued by South Carolina for many years, allowing populations to rebound.

Seabrook Island Natural History Group is one of the island’s oldest and largest special interest groups dedicated to exploring the ecology, history, and culture of the Carolina Lowcountry. For more information about SINHG, click here.

-Submitted by Seabrook Island Natural History Group

SINHG Explores “Lost Charleston”

The final SINHG (Seabrook Island Natural History Group) Evening Program of the fall season will take place at The Lake House, on Thursday, November 10, 2022, at 7:00 pm.  The presentation will explore “Lost Charleston” with author Leigh Handal, whose book of the same title was published in 2019.  It will recall the many mansions, hotels, markets, and restaurants that disappeared during much of the 20th century when the city reinvented itself as a tourist destination after the devastations of the Civil War and natural disasters such as the 1886 earthquake.

Handal has also co-authored the training manual used by the city’s licensed tour guides and is active in the preservation campaign for the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease Historical Site. Professionally, Handal worked for many years in public relations and has served as the local chapter president of the Public Relations Society of America. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and The College of Charleston, for which she served as president of the college’s Alumni Association.

SINHG Evening Programs are open to all Seabrook Island residents and guests.
There is a $5 fee for non SINHG members. To preregister visit, please click here.

Seabrook Island Natural History Group explores the ecology, history, and culture of the Carolina Lowcountry.  Come explore with us!  For more information about SINHG, please go to sinhg.org.

-Submitted by Norm Powers for SINHG

SINHG Hits The Road For Fall

Members of the Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) have taken to the road for the group’s autumn series of SINHG Trips exploring the history, ecology and culture of the Lowcountry. Members walked downtown’s historic Tradd Street to learn about the “Angel Of Tradd”, Susan Pringle Frost, whose preservation efforts led to Charleston’s first designated historic district and established awareness of the city’s rich architectural heritage. The city’s troubled ties with the Caribbean slave trade was the focus of another downtown tour, particularly ties with Barbados, from which many enslaved workers were imported. Civil War history came to life for another group of members at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the Cooper River, where the group’s private tour of the H.L. Hunley Confederate submarine’s restoration explored the many mysteries surrounding the submarine’s fate waiting to be solved. A more contemporary perspective emerged during a group tour of Charleston’s Channel 2 hosted by weathercaster Rob Fowler, who guided the group through the station’s studios and news gathering infrastructure. SINHG Trips continue through mid-December. To learn more about SINHG membership, visit sinhg.org.

-Submitted by Norm Powers, for SINHG

(Image credit: SINHG)

Register Soon for SINHG Autumn Trips

Slots are filling quickly for the Seabrook Island Natural History Group’s schedule of SINHG Trips for the fall season. A third of the 37 trips offered are new this year for SINHG members, including:

  • Tours of surrounding harbors and historic districts on Easy Rider bikes
  • Explorations, on foot, of key components of Charleston history, from ties to the Caribbean islands to the fight for women’s and civil rights
  • A tour of The Citadel campus
  • A biking tour of Kiawah’s three nature observation towers

Formerly retired trips are back on the list, too, including:

  • A private tour and observation of continuing restoration efforts of the H.L. Hunley Civil War-era submarine
  • Walking tours of some of Charleston’s most historic and picturesque neighborhoods
  • Four popular kayaking expeditions to area creeks and rivers.

The deadline for signing up for fall trips is July 23, 2022. Interested but not a SINHG member? Visit sinhg.org to learn about the benefits of membership and to join online.

Recent SINHG trip in Washington Square

-Submitted by Norm Powers for SINHG

(Image credit: SINHG)

SINHG Releases Fall Activity Schedule

The Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) has released its autumn schedule of SINHG Trips for members and Evening Programs for residents.

Among the 38 educational and cultural trips offered for members, starting in September, are several kayaking expeditions in the ACE Basin, a tour of historic Mount Pleasant on electric bicycles, a private tour of the H.L. Hunley Museum in Charleston, and three culinary tours of downtown Charleston restaurants.

Three Evening Programs for island residents at the Lake House are planned, starting in September with a presentation on the history of Charleston tea plantations, followed by an October program on the history of James Island and in November with a “Lost Charleston” program on the city’s post-Civil War history. Details and registration are available at sinhg.org.

-Submitted by Norm Powers, for SINHG

On the Peninsula with SINHG

SINHG members have been traveling downtown in recent weeks as part of SINHG‘s spring schedule of educational trips. A dozen members explored Wraggborough, the downtown neighborhood with the Joseph Manigault House and the Charleston Museum at its center. The neighborhood is named for Joseph Wraggborough, an early 18th-century slave trader who once owned the parcel bounded by King and E. Bay streets, and whose seven children have lent their names to the neighborhood’s seven major streets – Ann, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Henrietta, John, Judith, and Mary.


Charleston’s troubled but colorful pirate history was the focus of another SINHG trip, during which members learned of Blackbeard’s blockade of Charleston harbor in 1718 to wring medical supplies for his crew from the city and of the city’s rambunctious reputation as the Las Vegas of the British colonies during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.


SINHG Trips continue through May, and a full schedule of fall trips will be announced soon.

-Submitted by Norm Powers, for SINHG

(Image credit: SINHG)

A Busy March for SINHG

SINHG members have been on the road and on the water during a busy month for the group’s signature SINHG Trips. A dozen members enjoyed a peaceful early spring kayak tour of Echaw Creek, a little known waterway within the ACE Basin’s national forest, famous for its “walking” cypresses. Earlier in the month, ten members learned about a catastrophic chapter in downtown’s history during a two-hour “Great Earthquake” tour of historic Charleston, stopping at key locations most affected by the devastation of the 1886 quake. Another group of SINHG members enjoyed a five-course “Death By Chocolate” dinner at downtown’s State Street dining room, each chocolate-derived course accompanied by ghostly tales from Charleston’s past, from the city’s most famous serial killer to the restless souls of the city’s 1854 yellow fever epidemic.

SINHG Trips continue through May. An autumn schedule of trips is under development.

-Submitted by Norm Powers for SINHG

SINHG Explores Downtown Charleston

More than thirty SINHG members joined two separate explorations earlier this month – one of downtown Charleston’s abundant dining opportunities, and another of some of the city’s lesser known alleyways and passages. A culinary tour of upper King Street visited some of the peninsula’s newest restaurants, while a walking tour of downtown’s least known passageways finished up with a delicious southern lunch at the historic State Street dining room, complete with ham biscuits, gumbo and banana pudding. Later in the day, a session at The Lake House was dedicated to building the perfect charcuterie board with members supplied with a slate board and food for their creations. SINHG trips continue through mid-May. A schedule of autumn trips for members is in development.

-Submitted by Norm Powers, for SINHG

(Image credit: Julia Thogmartin)